The Many Roles Of The Private Investigator In Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations Part VI

the private investigator
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By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

The majority of investigators select different interview styles when interviewing potential witness in an investigation they are conducting. Some of the old school investigators never learned from a college, workshop or seminars on what style of interviewing will work for this and that situation. They learned from the school of hard knocks. Therefore, there are three types of investigators, those who are educated and trained, those who have a knack in doing the correct and appropriate things, and/or both.
As an investigator he/she must have many characteristics which are appealing to not only the average Joe, but to those of the lower and upper classes. This observation about an investigator is a key issue as if the investigator can’t adapt to talking to a variety of people, they will quickly find out that they should change their profession.
Law enforcement officers expend their entire day working with individuals but also talking with them. The investigator deals with the same scenarios. A fact-finding process requires specific skills and one of them is communicating at any level, with any individual, from any race, to different languages. Nobody said being an investigator would be easy.
Being an investigator requires an individual who can achieve results.
If the investigator is educated and experienced he/she will have the ability to select the most effective methods and techniques to utilize during an interview. The choices are broad and the interview styles and tools can be beneficial if utilized effectively.
In previous writings I discussed thoroughly about the cognitive interview created by R. Edward Geiselman and Ronald P. Fisher in 1985. The following information is a summary about the cognitive interview and the subtleties and nuances:
The cognitive interview involves a number of techniques:
·         The interviewer tries to mentally reinstate the environmental and personal context of the crime for the witnesses, perhaps by asking them about their general activities and feelings on the day. This could include sights, sounds, feelings and emotions, the weather etc...
·         Witnesses are asked to report the incident from different perspective, describing what they think other witnesses (or even the criminals themselves) might have seen.
·         Recounting the incident in a different narrative order. Geiselman & Fisher proposed that due to the recency effect, people tend to recall more recent events more clearly than others. Witnesses should be encouraged to work backwards from the end to the beginning.
·         Witnesses are asked to report every detail, even if they think that detail is trivial. In this way, apparently unimportant detail might act as a trigger for key information about the event.
The purposes of how to utilize the above four interview suggested steps are viewed differently by those in the professional field. The use of changing the order of a witness testimony, their prior knowledge, expectations and so forth will bring about positive and successful results. Those who do not advocate this protocol or use it simply do not understand its usefulness.
Geiselman and Fisher compared the current standard police interview and hypnosis in creating the cognitive interview protocol. A couple years after the creation of the cognitive interview protocol, Geiselman and Fisher created the enhanced cognitive interview which expanded more social aspects to the interview setting and procedure, which adds a further increase in recall from the original version.
In utilizing the cognitive interview protocol the investigator will find that there is flexibility in the manner in which to utilize the four rules dictated by Geiselman and Fisher. As the investigator becomes proficient at using the cognitive interview protocol the various approaches can be tested until the investigator finds the proper interview tools.
The cognitive interview protocol is utilized by more police departments worldwide than any other interview protocol, as the implementation is easily taught to the reactive patrol officer to the homicide detective. This protocol has demonstrated its usefulness in child sexual abuse cases. There is a child interview cognitive protocol which is used by child interviewers. The child interviewers have found the protocol to be useful to the point where they are able to obtain an abundance of information. In comparison to other interview protocols, child interviewers have stated in studies and research projects that they prefer to use the cognitive interview protocol. The investigator can attend a five day seminar or workshop and learn the principles behind the cognitive interview protocol.
Tomorrow, the many interview protocols will be further reviewed as was the case today in examining and evaluating the cognitive interview protocol. It is apparent that an investigator who invests the necessary time in utilizing the protocols will be able to self-evaluate his/her strengths and weaknesses. An investigator who is capable of being neutral and objective about their interview capabilities is likely an excellent investigator.

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